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Gospel for Sunday, April 11: John 20: 19-31


19In the evening of that same day, the first after the Sabbath, while the doors of the place where the disciples were were closed for fear of the Jews, Jesus came, stopped among them and said: “Peace be with you!”. 20Having said this, he showed them his hands and his side. And the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit; 23whose sins you forgive will be forgiven, and whose sins you will not forgive, they will remain unforgiven.” 24Thomas, one of the Twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25The other disciples then said to him: “We have seen the Lord!”. But he said to them, “Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26Eight days later the disciples were back in the house and Thomas was also with them. Jesus came, behind closed doors, stopped among them and said: “Peace be with you!”. 27Then he said to Thomas: “Put your finger here and look at my hands; stretch out your hand, and put it in my side; and no longer be an unbeliever but a believer!” 28Thomas replied: “My Lord and my God!”. 29Jesus said to him: “Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!” 30Many other signs Jesus did in the presence of his disciples, but they are not written in this book. 31These were written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 20: 19-31

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

While Matthew and John 21 place the first appearance of the Risen Jesus in Galilee, today’s Gospel (John 20,19-31), like Luke and Mark 16, presents it in Jerusalem. The scheme is the classic one of apparition stories: a) the miserable situation of the disciples is described (v. 19); b) the sudden manifestation is recounted (v. 19); c) there is a greeting (v. 19); d) recognition occurs (v. 19); e) ends with a command (vv. 21-23).

The two apparitions told to us in today’s Gospel take place on the first day after the Sabbath (vv. 19.26). The reference is liturgical: Christians, aware of the centrality of the Resurrection, gather to celebrate it on its weekly occasion (Acts 20.7; 1 Cor 16.2), underlining not only the detachment from Judaism, but above all that the Eucharist Sunday is the place of encounter with the Risen One (Rev 1,10).

The Risen Jesus brings gifts to his followers: these donations are not only for the Apostles, but for all believers (Lk 24.33).

The first gift is peace and joy: “Jesus stopped among them and said: «Peace be with you!». Having said this, he showed them his hands and his side. And the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (Jn 20:19-20; cf. Rev 19:7; 21:3-4). Peace is the cosmic reconciliation with God and with all men which is a harbinger of profound joy even in pain. “The Resurrection of Jesus is not only what awaits us after death; it is a present Easter event, which takes place day after day in the one who believes and hopes, who suffers and loves, who lets himself be guided by the Word in his daily life to follow Jesus who, through passion and death, makes the transition from this world to the Father” (C. M. Martini).

The second gift is the mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20, 21): Christians are a people of messengers, of apostles. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reiterated: “The pilgrim Church is by its nature missionary” (Ad Gentes, n. 2); and invited “each community… to broaden the vast network of its charity to the ends of the earth, demonstrating for those who are far away the same concern it has for those who are its own members” (id., n. 37 ). The mission is therefore a constitutive, integral part of the life of the Church: we are not called to an individual salvation, but we have been saved to save, consoled to console, liberated to liberate.

The third gift is the Holy Spirit “breathed” on the disciples, perhaps a trace of an ancient ordination rite: “After saying this, he breathed on them and said: «Receive the Holy Spirit»” (Jn 18.22: cf. 14 ,26; 16,7): it is a prophetic consecration (Jn 17,18-19), it is a new creation (Gen 2,7; Wis 15,11; Ez 37,4-5), it is the baptism of the disciples (Jn 3 ,5).

The fourth gift is the power to forgive: “Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven, and whose sins you will not forgive, they will remain unforgiven” (Jn 20.23: cf. Mt 16.19; 18.18): not only “sacramental” forgiveness ”, but also the reciprocal one (Mt 6.12; 18.22) and the reconciliation of the world (Mk 16.15-16; Lk 24.47).

In chapter 20 of the Gospel of John we are presented with four examples of faith in the Resurrection: the beloved disciple, who believes immediately upon seeing the empty tomb and the bandages on the ground (Jn 20.3-8); Mary of Magdala, who saw the angels at the tomb but who believes only when the Lord appears to her calling her by her name (Jn 20,11-18); the frightened disciples, to whom the risen Christ manifests himself, showing the signs of the Passion on his body (Jn 20,19-25); Thomas’ story is instead a dramatization of the theme of doubt (Jn 20,24-29). But Jesus, with the only macarism, or beatitude, present in the Gospel of John (together with 13.17) proclaims “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”.

Whoever meets the Risen One in his life and receives his gifts becomes a missionary to bring joy, peace, forgiveness and the very Love of God to all men.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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